Inspired by Jamie Lloyd’s production of KILLER at Shoreditch Town Hall, we thought we’d screen a brace of horror movies that – ahem – “do it on the radio”*.
Not a zombie movie – (KNOW YOUR MONSTERS 101: marauding hordes don’t have to be the living dead to cause you considerable harm) – PONTYPOOL (2008) is something much more peculiar. When even the President of the United States is getting his security briefings from talk radio, PONTYPOOL presciently imagines that language itself has been weaponised, infecting those that hear and speak with animalistic appetites.
Taking place during the breakfast broadcast of a local radio station in small-town Canada, we are locked in with shock-jock Grant Mazzy and his producers as chaos erupts outside. Tipping deliberately into the absurd – LAWRENCE OF ARABIA THE MUSICAL’s blacked-up cast causes particular mirth – the film lunges at its premise with amoral delight.
As you’d hope, the sound design is delicious, filling your head with Stephen McHattie’s mellifluous voice before the deranged chattering of the infected swarms over everything. Watch it with headphones to see if you can survive the morning.
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
- PONTYPOOL at IMDb.
- PONTYPOOL on blu-ray, DVD and on-demand at Amazon.
- PONTYPOOL CHANGES EVERYTHING started life as a novel, radio and stage play.
- GONE ELSEWHERE didn’t like it as much as we did.
- ACID BURNS HORRORSHOW gave it a healthy score (78/100).
BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO
BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (2012) is less a horror movie than a movie about horror and our relationship with it. British sound designer Gilderoy – a brilliantly withdrawn Toby Jones – travels from the controlled confines of his garden shed to the relative chaos of an Italian film studio. Faced with mixing the sound for a violent new giallo – THE EQUESTRIAN VORTEX – Gilderoy struggles to adapt to his new surroundings. With a disturbing series of letters from home his only contact with the outside world, Gilderoy is repulsed by the horrific abuse he is forced to recreate.
Peter Strickland’s second film is a masterful study of mood, plunging Gilderoy and the audiences into an intensely claustrophobic soundscape. After its title credits, we see little if anything of the film Gilderoy is mixing. Instead, Strickland’s obsession is with sound and its production, examining in extreme close-up the booths, machines, tapes and a harvest festival of vegetables used to stage the required slaughter.
Screams are repetitively recorded and remixed, flooding our ears. Edits start to jump, unravelling our sense of time and place. Language morphs. So complete is our immersion in the violence of THE EQUESTRIAN VORTEX, boundaries begin to blur. What started as an exotic piece of fiction becomes a deadly onslaught in which we are increasingly culpable.
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
- BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO at IMDb.
- BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO is on DVD and blu-ray at Amazon.
- Peter Strickland’s first film is the wonderful revenge saga KATALIN VARGA.
- CELLULOID WICKER MAN gives good essay about sound, narrative and giallo.
*EDUCATING RITA (1983)
Featured image: PONTYPOOL (2008), Stephen McHattie as Grant Mazzy.